How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking in the Car

Medium
1-3 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’ve got an extremely long drive ahead. You’ve got young children to look after and a partner that insists on playing truly horrendous music in the car. Making it even worse though, is your dog who’s in the back barking. Not just a quiet growl, but a penetratingly loud bark. The only positive is that he’s drowning out the sound of your partner's music. There’s just no telling him to quit the barking, he seems adamant on making as much noise as possible whenever he gets into a car. It’s the same when you take him to the vets, or to visit friends and family. 

Training him to stop barking in the car will give you some well-deserved peace and quiet. It will also mean you don’t have to walk him in the rain and the cold just because of the havoc he’ll cause if you drive him.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to bark in the car is relatively straightforward. You’ll first need to identify why he barks, then you can set about remedying it. You’ll have to take a number of measures to keep him calm and subdued in the car. You’ll also need to use obedience commands to teach him to be quiet. If he’s a puppy, his brain should be malleable and you can expect results in as little as a week. If he’s older and had this noisy habit for many years then you may need up to three weeks to fully kick the habit.

Training him to be quiet will mean you can drive safely. You won’t be distracted by your barking dog, you’ll actually be able to concentrate on the road.

Getting Started

Before you can get to work, you’ll need to gather a few things. Treats or his favorite food will be essential. You’ll also need some toys and possibly some food puzzles. These will help keep him distracted when he’s in the car.

Find 10 minutes a day you can set aside for training, when you won’t be distracted by a noisy household. You’ll also need to have access to a car to practice in over the next few weeks.

Once you’ve got the above, you can get to work!

The Distraction Method

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Step
1
Exercise
Before you go on a drive, make sure he’s had plenty of exercise. If he’s restless then he may bark simply to release some pent up energy. Give him a long walk, or throw a ball for 15 minutes for him. A tired dog is a quiet dog.
Step
2
Meet all his needs
Make sure before a long drive in particular that he’s done everything he needs to, the toilet for example. If he’s been to the toilet and he’s got access to water and a towel or blanket to lie on, then he won’t bark to signal to you that he needs something.
Step
3
Food puzzles
When you get in the car, give him a food puzzle. You can buy puzzles that will keep him distracted and preoccupied for hours. If it’s got his favorite food inside then all his attention will be focused on that.
Step
4
Toys
Have someone else play gently with him in the car. He may simply want attention. Don’t get him so worked up he’s jumping around, but play a little tug of war and stroke him. This will stem any and all attention-seeking barking.
Step
5
Down time
Once you’ve played around for a while, have some down time. Talk in a quiet and soft voice. Dogs mirror their owners behavior, so if someone in the back can stroke him gently this should subdue him. It will also prevent any barking that’s a result of him being scared to be in the car.
Recommend training method?

The ‘Quiet’ Method

Effective
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Step
1
Monitor
Look for situations that naturally cause him to bark. These could be when you’re putting together his meals, or securing him to his leash for a walk. You’re going to use these moments to teach him to be quiet, a command that will come in extremely useful in the car.
Step
2
‘Quiet’
Put him in the bark-inducing situation and then wait patiently. As soon as he stops barking, issue a ‘quiet’ command, giving it in an upbeat but clear voice. You can use any word or phrase you like.
Step
3
Reward
As soon as you’ve given the command, give him a tasty treat and some praise. The better the treat the more likely he’ll be to follow your instruction again. Now practice this for 10 minutes every day.
Step
4
Use in the car
Now put him in the car and head off down the road. As soon as he barks, issue your ‘quiet’ command. Then when he does go quiet, throw him a treat. If he won’t follow your command in the car, go back to practicing in the house for a few more days.
Step
5
Lose the treats
When he finally gets the hang of it, you can stop giving him tasty rewards. Use the command every time and he’ll soon realize what is and isn’t expected of him in the car. The barking will eventually subside.
Recommend training method?

The Deterrence Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Spray bottle
When you’re in the car, have a passenger or someone in the back squirt water near his face when he barks. This quick, sharp spray will quickly signal to him that barking won’t be tolerated.
Step
2
Collars
You can also get collars that are automatically triggered when he barks. The citronella collar, for example, will emit an unpleasant spray near his face. Simply fit the collar before you get in a car. This will further deter him.
Step
3
‘NO’
Often, consistent disapproval from an owner can help stamp out an unfavorable habit. Whenever he barks, in a clear and firm voice say ‘NO’ in his direction. Don’t terrify him, but make sure he knows you mean business.
Step
4
Cover his crate
If you put him in a crate in the car and he starts barking, try putting a towel or blanket over it. If he can’t see what’s going on, he won’t get so worked up and he won’t bark. When he stops barking you can then remove it and give him another chance to stay quiet.
Step
5
Positive reinforcement
While deterring him with the measures above, also reward him with treats and attention when he doesn’t bark. This combination of positive and negative reinforcement will swiftly get the message across.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
pam
Mixed
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
pam
Mixed
5 Years

my dog is extremely attached to me. my issue is that when i have her in the car and she is secure in car m if i run into a store for paper etc she barks and barks and barks she also will try to get into front seat I crate her when i leave the house and she is fine no barking etc. She listens to me and i explain no barking and sit stay and i will be right back She understands sit and stay can you suggest any thing this is not working thanks

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
709 Dog owners recommended

Hello Pamela, First, teach her the Quiet command at home. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, purchase a high quality e-collar with at least thirty stimulation levels and vibration. Look for a high quality brand such as E-collar technologies (mini educator or EZ900), Dogtra, Garmin, or Sportdog. Pay attention to weight ranges on these when choosing one. High quality e-collars can give much smaller/gentler corrections and are far safer than random unknown brands bought overseas. Have her wear the collar around for a bit to get used to the feel of it. Next, find the correct level of stimulation to use for her training, called her working level - this is the lowest level pup indicates she can feel the collar on. The stimulation is means to be an interruption and mild discomfort, but a really harsh punisher. To find this level, wait until she is simply standing around acting boring and not distracted. Without saying anything, push the stimulation button for a second. Watch her to see if she responds. This response might be subtle like scratching, acting like a bug is on her, shaking her head, looking around, moving away from where she is, or something else. She might yelp out of surprise, but if you are using the lowest level and a high quality e-collar a yelp is typically due to surprise. If she seems overly sensitive to the collar you can use the vibration setting instead but vibration tends to be harsher than low stimulation for many dogs. Repeat pushing the button three times at the lowest level and watching for a response. If she does not respond, increase the level by one and watch for a response again while you test that level out three times. Continue increasing the level by one and watching for a response, until you reach a level that she responds too - If the collar you are using has a lot of levels, like the Mini Educators' one hundred levels, then many dogs won't even feel it until around level ten. It all depends on their own sensitivity level, which is why you find each dog's individual level. Check out the video linked below, demonstrating finding the correct level for a dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM At home, set up scenarios where you know that she will bark. When she barks, command Quiet. If she stops and stays Quiet - reward. If she continues barking, stimulate the collar on the pre-determined level each time she barks until you get a pause in the barking, when she gets quiet for a few seconds - rewards. You can also try using instead of stimulation and see if that's effective. Some dogs find that more adverse than the stimulation though and others ignore it, so only trial and error will tell you if vibration is the best option vs. stimulation. A high quality collar like E-collar technologies or Garmin will often have both options without buying a second device. Practice various barking scenarios at home until pup can quickly respond to the Quiet command, and definitely the collar reminder. When pup is responding well, go somewhere like a friend's driveway when weather is at a safe temperature to practice this, and practice leaving pup in the car while spying on her from somewhere nearby that is out of sight. Remind pup to be Quiet when you leave, then correct with the collar whenever she barks. If you see her truly settle down - like lie down quietly, return to the car, sprinkle a couple of treats through a slightly rolled down window to reward her calmness - only rolled down enough to get your hand through so she can't stick her whole head through, then leave again and continue practicing. Gradually increase how long you practice this for at a time, starting with short amounts of time at first. When she can stay calm at the calm location the whole time you are gone, drive to somewhere a bit more exciting. Very gradually increase the difficulty of the location as she improves - such as your own neighborhood, a friend's driveway, an empty park, a busier park, an emptier store parking lot, then a busy store parking lot finally. If she is reacting specifically to strange people near the car, you will also need to spend time desensitizing her to strangers approaching in general, by rewarding tolerance to that and slowly working up to her doing well around strangers. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tyrus
Doberman Pinscher
4 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Tyrus
Doberman Pinscher
4 Years

He continues barking while in the car at everything. I just rescued him. I live in Florida but pick him up in N. Carolina,
I was told to give him Trazodone and Benadryl. It worked.
I took him on a 20 min drive and constantly barking.
I would rather not drug him for short rides.
Any suggestions? Ty Yolanda

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
93 Dog owners recommended

Hello, you are right - you do not want to give Tyrus medication in the car for short rides. Too much medication is never good. I would work on the Quiet Method, described in the guide where you submitted the question. It can be very effective if worked on and practiced in all situations, especially at home. Then the command can be easily transferred to the car afterward.https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-barking-in-the-car. The Quiet command is also explained well here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark. Once the Quiet command is mastered, you can then take Tyrus for a short car ride around the block and back, working on the command. Then, extend the ride further each time. Soon, he'll be able to go in the car without barking. Be consistent - it will come. Good luck!

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Question
Enzo
Yorkie-spaniel
3 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Enzo
Yorkie-spaniel
3 Years

I feel like I may be the only one who has this issue, but my little man hates the windshield wipers. As soon as it starts raining he already knows its a possibility that they are coming so we have applied rain-x to help not use them so much but he is super intense if catches a glimpse. He climbs on the dashboard and I have tried to use treats that are high value to him for this and he is not interested in it at all. I have to cover his eyes or he will freak out and try to attack them. Im at a loss with what I'm able to do. He always sits in my lap because he already hates car rides and thats the place he feels the most safe. Like he is excited to get in the car and, we have gotten pass the throwing up stage When driving but he does shake/tremble but only when the windows are up. When the windows are down he enjoys them but I live in Florida and it can get very hot out.If you have anything that would be able to help him that would be great. Hopefully this makes sense. :)

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
134 Dog owners recommended

Hi there! So you mentioned you have tried giving him treats while the wipers are on. If you haven't tried doing this in a controlled setting, I would start over and do that. Try to not be reactive to his behavior at all. You stay as still as you can (while controlling the situation) and stay quiet. Sit in your driveway and turn on your wipers. Repeatedly give him treats. Do this for about 10 minutes on a somewhat consistent basis until you start to see results. There is a statistic I learned a long time ago. Dogs need to be exposed to something they are afraid of nearly 150 times before they learn to cope better. So instead of doing this in the heat of the moment (driving in the rain) do it from a more controlled setting so it isn't so stressful for everyone.

Thank you so much for the advice on Enzo. I havent tried the controlled enviroment yet. I thought about it, but didnt know if it was the right thing to do. So I am going to hope this

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